When you support a team who usually exit all cup competitions before the smoke has cleared from Bonfire night, a chance to defy the odds and get into the last 16 of the FA Cup is something to be celebrated.
Oldham managed to beat Fulham in the previous round in a game that involved the use of VAR which gifted the home team a penalty. It was subsequently shown to have been a pointless exercise given that the referee still made a wrong decision by not spotting that Tom Cairney had fallen over without any contact from Missilou. Thankfully, Daniel Iverson saved the spot kick and Latics went on to get the win they deserved.
Elsewhere however in the forgotten basement of UK football, Leagues One and Two often have to put up with decisions from the officials that border on the bizarre. The chance then to play in a game which is presided over by the best there is should surely be welcomed. Sadly after the Fulham game, the referee for Doncaster v Oldham also showed that he was unable to make an accurate decision on whether to give a penalty. There was no VAR to provide back up, only the referee’s assistant.
With Oldham on the front foot following captain Peter Clarke‘s equaliser in the 84th minute, a Doncaster corner was headed against the bar and Peter Clarke was once again in the thick of it to try and head the ball clear.
The Doncaster players then decided that he had handled the ball and mobbed the referee who gave a penalty. Following obvious denials from the Oldham players, the referee consulted his linesman (who hadn’t flagged for a handball) and still awarded a penalty. Video evidence after the game showed that Clarke hadn’t touched the ball and he was later yellow carded followed by a red despite not having been previously booked for a foul on the Doncaster keeper. His frustrations were evident in what had been a game of mixed emotions for the 37-year-old.
It is sometimes too easy to blame the officials when a game has been lost by the ineptitude of the team rather than those in charge, but Oldham had a genuine grievance about the decision and were playing well enough to at least get a draw out of the game. It is a situation that is unlikely to change however and we can at least console ourselves in the fact that we reached the fourth round, having played all our FA Cup games away from home this season.